Harassed and beaten for being white.

Rita Burkholder
Huntsville, AL

Growing up in the seventies and eighties was hard on all of us as kids. But having fellow students channel their parents lingering anger and resentment from pre civil rights era was difficult for all of us. Some of my fellow students beat me badly in the first grade for being white. I was called cracker, whitey, honky. I was surrounded by half a dozen girls and kicked and beaten on the ground in my neighborhood. This was a recurring trend throughout my schooling. Usually it was general harassment, name calling, punches in the bathrooms, pinches in the hallways and always being threaten. Ironically I learned that the angry black kids had the power and I was a bad person for being white. Rarely did a teacher or parent stand up for me as a person, because to do so would make them appear ” racist”.
Now I realize that the kids who harassed me for my skin color had quickly become the oppressors that their parents had suffered from.
Even now my peers are hesitant to talk about the outright bullying and abuse our generation suffered. I myself have been told because I am white that I don’t have a right to complain and that it wasn’t racism. I was told to suck it up as payback. We are shamed to remain silent and our experiences are not valid because of the color of our skin. This is discrimination.
While studying Cultural Anthropology, I learned that there is no such thing as “race” outside of the human race. There is only ethnicity. So I cringe whenever I hear anyone say the word race to delineate color lines. I was raised to believe that color doesn’t matter and I still believe that. We are all human.


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